How to Organize a Junk Drawer in 30 Minutes

5 Steps to an organized junk drawer in 30 minutes or less.

Declutter the junk drawer
John-Francis Bourke/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images

Organizing your junk drawer is a quick and easy organizational project that you can complete in five steps.

You may call it your "catch all," your "coupon drawer" or your "multi-use drawer" but let's be honest, it's a junk drawer.

This is the place you store all the items you either rarely use or don't know where else to stow, but fear not, even junk drawers can be neat and tidy with a little decluttering and some elbow grease.

 

In general the goal of a junk drawer is to provide a place to store all of those little odds and ends that don't quite fit in anywhere else. In your kitchen, this might be your scissors, rubber bands, twist ties and a notepad and pens. None of those items belong in the utensil drawer or the spice cabinet, but they are used frequently and need to be stored out of sight. 

1. Declutter the junk drawer.

Take everything out and be realistic about its use. And then purge, purge, purge. Do you really need a stockpile of soy sauce packets and chopsticks from your last take out meal? Or old business cards you collected two years ago and never used? It may seem wasteful to throw these things out and you should, of course, recycle when possible--but you are never, ever going to use them so right now they're wasting space. Use the What to Keep or Toss Checklist for guidance.

TIP: Once your drawer is empty, take the opportunity to give it a good dusting.

2. Sort, group, and arrange into piles.

Once you've purged, begin to sort and group similar items in piles. You will find some items that don't belong in the junk drawer. Put those aside and continue to stack the remaining contents. The beauty of the junk drawer is that everyone has their own unique junk, but there are a few essentials items that can make your junk drawer more user-friendly so keep these items in mind:

Kitchen Junk Drawer:

  • Coupon holder
  • Recipe sorter
  • Pens and pencils
  • Scissors

Office Junk Drawer:

  • Label maker
  • Stapler, scissors, tape dispenser
  • Advil, band aids, antibacterial ointment
  • Loose change
  • Hand sanitizer

3. Plan storage solutions.
 

Measure the width and height of your drawer and decide which hardware you will use to divide your items. I like to use small trays in varying sizes. They can be bought on the cheap at any drug store or market, but keep these creative and unexpected junk drawer dividers in mind:

4. Arrange your storage.

Here comes the good part! Arrange the items in their new dividers. Even if the contents of your drawer remain a mishmash, the key to an organized drawer is to be able to see what's in there quickly rather than rifling through looking for the old coupons amongst newspaper articles you've clipped.

5. Maintain junk drawer organization.

Go through your junk drawer on a regular basis. Upkeep is crucial. If you do this regularly, you will always have a general idea of its contents; if you don't you run the risk of needing a crowbar to pry the thing open.

Through your upkeep you will end up recycling most of the contents. Remember: If you haven't used it in a few months, it's just wasting space.

Do you need some suggestions for when to edit your junk drawer? My preferred ritual is Saturday mornings with a cup of coffee in my hand. Here are some other great times to organize your junk drawer:

  • Monthly bill paying night.

  • Your seasonal cleaning - although I would recommend cleaning your junk drawer on a monthly basis, it's a great place to start when embarking on your major housecleaning days.

  • Monday nights - it's a good idea to start the week on an organized note.